Rise and Shine: April 15, 2020

OK. I admit it. I had to Google, “What is today.” It’s Wednesday. It’s also Tax Day.

I knew there was a reason I wanted to stay in bed….and not because of the weather, because it’s looking OK. We’re on tap for mixed sun and clouds today and temperatures in the high 40s, according to The Weather Channel. Also, there might be some snow showers tonight, you know, upstate spring.

Technically speaking, taxes are due at midnight tonight. Usually, there’s a bit of a run on post offices around the nation (by those people who are traditionalists, and file by snail mail still).

Oh, and by the way, the U.S. Postal Service, like most other entities, is being hard hit by the coronavirus, and the New York Times wants Washington to save it.

Anyway, you don’t have to rush out there to mail anything today because due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has basically upended everything, the IRS has extended the federal income filing deadline to July 15.

“Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.

Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify for this automatic federal tax filing and payment relief.”

New York has also moved its tax filing deadline to correspond with the new federal filing date. (Most other states have done the same).

The government did encourage people to file early anyway, because the quicker you do so, the quicker you get your refund – assuming you’re owed one. Also, if you file electronically, the quicker you’ll be receiving your federal stimulus payment – if you’re eligible.

Apparently, though, there could be some delay in getting those checks out the door because the Treasury Department has ordered that President Trump’s name be printed on the checks that are being sent to millions of American workers impacted by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

President Donald Trump said yesterday he’s fine with governors making their own decisions about how and when to reopen their states — a quick retreat from the day before, when he insisted that such choices were up to only him because his “authority is total.”

…that’s a victory for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who spent much of the past 48 hours or so engaged in a very public war of words with the president over whether the states or the White House had the true power to determine when to re-start the local economies.

The governor insisted that he would not get dragged into a fight with Trump, but then shortly thereafter quoted the following fighting words by one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton:

“The State governments possess inherent advantages, which will ever give them an influence and ascendancy over the National Government, and will for ever preclude the possibility of federal encroachments.”

…to which Cuomo added: “We don’t have a king in this country, we didn’t want a king. So we have a constitution and we elect a president.”

“If (Trump) says to me, ‘I declare it open,’ and that is a public health risk or it’s reckless with the welfare of the people of my state, I will oppose it,” Cuomo said. “And then we will have a constitutional crisis like you haven’t seen in decades, where states tell the federal government, ‘We’re not going to follow your order.’ It would be terrible for this country. It would be terrible for this president.”

Trump’s initial response was to take to Twitter, where he wrote: “Tell the Democrat governors that ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ was one of my all-time favorite movies. A good old-fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the captain. Too easy!”

…and then he changed his mind, saying later that he would speak in the coming days with all 50 governors to discuss how to reopen the economy, which has cratered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a frenzy of TV appearances, Cuomo urged the president to avoid being “dictatorial.” He said on CNN that Trump’s coronavirus response had been “schizophrenic.” On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he compared the president’s daily briefings to “a comedy skit” that no governor should watch.

In other Trump news…the president announced he is halting funding to the World Health Organization, a UN agency, while a review of is conducted. He believe the WHO “severely” mismanaged the pandemic and then covered up its spread.

In response, the UN chief said it was “not the time” to cut funds to the WHO.

Trump has for weeks faced relentless criticism for having overseen a slow and ineffective response to the coronavirus pandemic, failing to quickly embrace public health measures that could have prevented the disease from spreading.

Among his chief critics: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The US is the WHO’s biggest donor, with funding over $400 million a year in both assessed contributions (membership fees) and donations – though it is actually $200 million in arrears.

Trump recited some of the most prominent names of Wall Street and Silicon Valley yesterday, business leaders who he said would be advising him in when and how to reopen the country’s economy. The announcement came after days of confusion about the makeup of what he has described as his “Opening the Country” council.

Cuomo’s demands for New York to receive additional federal aid are a sign of the growing political pressure that Congress will face in the coming weeks as elected officials from states hit hard by the coronavirus stare down fiscal calamity and look to Washington for relief.

Already, the National Governors Association, for which Cuomo serves as vice chairman, is asking for an additional $500 billion for states and territories.

The CCD said that at least 9,282 health care professionals had contracted the coronavirus in the United States as of April 9, and that 27 had died from it, but the numbers are likely even higher due to inconsistencies in data gathering and reporting.

Hospitalizations of coronavirus patients continued to level off in New York yesterday Cuomo said the state has probably hit its apex, even though a staggering 778 more people died and calls went out to help people pay to bury their loved ones.

The number of health care workers calling in sick at NYC’s public hospitals has skyrocketed amid the coronavirus pandemic — with the absentee rate doubling compared to before the killer virus slammed the city.

New York’s face mask mandate for essential workers takes effect tonight.

In many parts of the country, governors from both parties said they were a long way off from telling Americans to go back to work and to their normal lives, but they also said it was not too early to make plans for that eventuality.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, for instance, said his state would be moving from its broad shelter-in-place order to a more individual approach to suppressing the virus, without immediately giving a time frame for the shift.

…this came as CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that the country is “definitely going to have a second wave” of coronavirus infections in the fall, with outbreaks likely to become a seasonal phenomenon.

Why is it so important to keep your distance from other people right now? Click here.

As countries around the world edge toward ending lockdowns and restarting their economies and societies, citizens are being more closely monitored, in nations rich and poor, authoritarian and free.

Asian stocks skidded today after the International Monetary Fund said the global economy will suffer its worst year since the Great Depression of the 1930s due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Millions of voters, all wearing masks, lined up at polling places across South Korea today to elect the country’s 300-member National Assembly, even as the country fought to control the coronavirus.

Toddlers and schoolchildren in Denmark today marked their first day back to school and day care after five weeks of coronavirus closings.

Singapore has made it mandatory for everyone to wear a mask outside of their homes in the latest bid to curb the coronavirus spread following a sharp spike in cases.

New York City, already a world epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, sharply increased its death toll by more than 3,700 victims yesterday, after officials said they were now including people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died of it.

Far more people have died in New York City, on a per-capita basis, than in Italy — the hardest-hit country in Europe.

The U.S. Census Bureau, citing impact from the coronavirus pandemic, has delayed its field operations for the 2020 Census until June 1.

The Rev. Franklin Graham accused New York elected officials and others of harassment over their criticism of his medical organization, which is operating a field hospital in Central Park for coronavirus patients that requires workers to sign a pledge that they are Christians who oppose same-sex marriage.

Former President Barack Obama emerged from political hibernation to endorse his former vice president, Joe Biden, (via video) and urge the Democratic Party — including, explicitly, supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — to unite behind its presumptive presidential nominee in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Obama’s nod will likely strengthen Biden’s support among African American voters, and is calculated to also help the vice president with young people, many of whom are still backing Sanders, or, which is more difficult to address, his policy proposals and ideals.

A senior Biden adviser said that the official vice presidential vetting process has yet to get underway, but noted it was likely to begin soon with the primary wrapped up.

Johnson & Johnson said it plans to begin imminent production of its trial COVID-19 vaccine on an “at risk” basis, as the coronavirus pandemic infects nearly 2 million people around the world.

Assemblyman Yuh-Line Niou, a Manhattan Democrat, has called on the state to send every eligible voter in New York an absentee ballot application – essentially creating a vote-by-mail system amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has changed the role of NYPD officers, many of whom are out sick.

The NYPD will begin taking the temperatures of police officers today, as the virus sweeps through the ranks.

Critics are blasting U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for staging a “photo op” in Corona, Queens – the US ZIP code hardest hit by the coronavirus.

Amazon and Walmart should end deliver fees and minimum online order requirements for customers who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrtion Assistance Program, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrote in a letter released yesterday.

Singer-songwriter John Legend joined a chorus of prison reform advocates who are calling on Cuomo to release some inmates amidst the raging coronavirus pandemic.

At least 18 people — nine inmates and nine officers — have been infected with COVID-19 at the Central New York Psychiatric Center which houses sex offenders who have been released from prison but are civilly confined in the hospital.

At a time when New Yorkers are being implored to stay home and a large segment of the workforce is holding meetings virtually, members of the public still have to trek to a courthouse if they want to watch the justice system operate.

The NYC Parks Department is being told to “prepare for every scenario” in the face of the lingering coronavirus — including the possibility that beaches will remain closed for the entire summer.

The New York Giants, Macy’s and New York University are among those who’ve donated 142,000 ponchos normally used at outdoor sporting events to the city so they can used as makeshift safety gear by doctors and other healthcare staff combating the coronavirus pandemic.

Most New York children “probably” already have coronavirus and are serving as vectors to spread the disease, according to one pediatrician.

During his daily news briefing, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said he’d be surprised if schools re-open this semester and that he and other county leaders were having discussions about when and how they might start to re-open local business that were forced to shutter during the coronavirus pandemic.

Day care centers, particularly early childhood facilities, operate with slim margins. Low enrollment, COVID-19 cases, and difficulty finding protective equipment have forced numerous child care providers the Capital Region to shut down, advocates say.

Albany International Airport will receive $15.28 million in federal relief funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Airport Grant Program, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced.

Community leaders in New York are urging that the next federal stimulus bill include direct funding to the communities that have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Roughly 2 percent of small businesses in New York have been approved for loans through the Small Business Administration’s new Paycheck Protection Program to help companies hurt by the coronavirus, according to new data obtained by the Times Union. (Funding for the program is expected to run out this week).

First-time hunters in New York need to take a safety course before getting their licenses and going afield. Turkey season starts May 1, posing a potential problem since hunting classes have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The state DEC is offering an online course.

The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York has seen a huge increase in demand since the pandemic began. So much so that they’ve had to expand to a second location.

The parent company of The Los Angeles Times is furloughing 40 employees and cutting the pay of senior managers in an effort to make up for losses brought on by a pandemic-related decline in advertising revenue.

The Long Island resident blasted as a “jackass loser fat-tire biker” by Chris Cuomo in a radio rant told The NY Post that the CNN host is nothing but a bully — and has even filed a complaint with cops against him.

In non-virus news…

The Yankees’ principal owner, George Steinbrenner, died after a longstanding illness at the age of 63.

Renowned sculptor and painter Glenna Goodacre, who created the Vietnam Women’s Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C, has died of natural causes. She was 80.

Reps. Paul Tonko, Elise Stefanik and Antonio Delgado renewed a push to get the Trump administration to adopt new limousine safety regulations recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board following the 2018 Schoharie limo crash that killed 20 people.

A federal court has struck down a 2018 Agriculture Department rule that reversed nutrition standards for sodium and whole grains in school meal programs once championed by the former first lady Michelle Obama.

Acting Cohoes Police Chief Tom Ross is preparing to retire after he passes the 50-year mark on May 1 as a member of the police department.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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